Simply put, we want results to maintain or improve patient safety standards and be affordable for our health systems. Areas likely to be affected by the trade agreement include the safety of medical devices and the authorisation, implementation and publication of clinical trial data. The debate on intellectual property rights and patents, as well as drug pricing and reimbursement, is not “on the table.” If it proves impossible to conclude the agreement without ISDS, we would at least like strong security measures so that this mechanism cannot be used to thwart the public political intentions of the elected governments of the Member States. Initially, the British government “shook up” or copied many of the EU`s existing trade agreements with other countries. The UK is also negotiating substantial new agreements – for example with the US, Australia and the EU – that say they want to “reiterate as much as possible” EU trade agreements. Public services are generally considered to be protected from trade agreements. For example, the World Trade Organization`s General Agreement on Trade and Services (GATS) requires that public services be protected from the terms of free trade agreements, provided they are not provided on a commercial or competitive basis. The new President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, told the European Parliament at the presentation of his framework programme in July: “The Commission will negotiate a reasonable and balanced trade agreement with the United States, in a spirit of mutual and reciprocal benefits and transparency.” He promised not to “sacrifice European standards for safety, health, social protection and data protection, nor our cultural diversity on the altar of free trade.” On 11 December 2014, Jean-Luc Demarty, Director General of Trade at the European Commission, wrote to Dr Sarah Wollaston, Chair of the House of Commons Public Health Committee, to give her clearer assurances that the EU intended to exclude publicly funded health services from the TTIP agreement. Publicly funded services provided by private or third-party organizations are also protected. The EU`s practice is that the “click” mechanisms that “lock up” liberalisation do not apply to public services, so future governments will have the freedom to change policy direction. By the end of 2016, negotiations were suspended and it remains to be seen whether they will resume. In the face of Brexit, the European Bureau`s attention has shifted to the broader issue of the impact of different types of Brexit on the UK`s future trade relationship with the EU and the type of future free trade agreements that could be negotiated between the UK and other countries.
This is the most fundamental question of TTIP. The current national law of public procurement and competition rules already allows NHS commissioners in England to open clinical services to competition if they wish.